Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Reel 30

“It is very cold in space, Kirk”

1982 was a banner year for movies, with many significant films in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. This month marks the 30th anniversary of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN
After the lukewarm success of the first STAR TREK film, STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), the filmmakers had a clear idea of what the sequel needed to do. Although first film had dazzling visuals and Kubrick-like themes and pacing, it lacked an adversary with a face; a villain to muck things up for the crew of heroes. With that in mind, the filmmakers dove into the original TV series with the intention of finding a Big Bad worthy of the big screen, and find a Big Bad they did.
Focusing on the open-ended episode SPACE SEED (1967), Director Nicholas Meyer and Producer Harve Bennet chose the iconic Khan Noonien Singh, played by Ricardo Montalban. Having been marooned by Cpt. Kirk at the end of the original episode, it was clear that a simple motivating factor of vengeance was enough to sell the character, with some obsessive Cpt. Ahab sprinkled on for good measure. Montalban’s performance was, and is still considered to this day to be the best TREK villain ever on the big screen.

With every sci-fi film in need of human elements to keep the audience engaged, WRATH OF KHAN capitalized on strong themes of friendship, sacrifice, mortality, and old age; all themes which laid the groundwork for nearly every future TREK movie right up to this day. WRATH OF KHAN is a human story, possibly the most human sci-fi film ever put together.

WRATH OF KHAN was a household favorite growing up; the first home-release we owned was on the glorious Betamax format, and that tape was likely watched about a billion times between this Blogger and this Blogger’s Dad. It was a space adventure and great TREK, taking the characters (literally) to places they had never been. Today, KHAN still remains very high up on anyone’s Best Sci-fi Films list, and its influences can be seen in countless films. THE MOTION PICTURE may have taken the franchise out of dry-dock, but it was KHAN who brought it home.

“I have been, and always shall be your friend”

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